Pai Gow poker is played with a standard deck of cards, including one joker. A joker is used as a wild card to complete a winning hand. However, the joker can only be used as a wild card or an ace to complete a straight, flush, or a straight flush. It cannot be used as a three or four of a kind and with other winning hands.
This means, if you have a joker in your hand, it might not do you any good. The game is usually played with six players and a banker, where the players are playing against the banker and not each other. The casino will usually be the banker. Most casinos require you to pay a 5% commission on all of your winning bets.
Pai Gow begins with the players placing their bets for the game. The bet must be the table minimum. The dealer will deal seven different stacks of seven different cards. It doesn’t matter how many players are at the table. The dealer will then shake a cup of dice with three dice in it which will determine which player gets the first hand. The hands are given to the players based on the roll of the dice.
When the players receive their hands, each person will separate their cards based on a five-card hand and a two-card hand. The two-card hand will be placed in front and you will place the five-card hand directly behind it. Both of your hands must beat the banker’s hand to win. If one hand wins and the other hand loses, then no one wins. If you have a tie with the dealer, then it is known as a copy and the dealer wins. You lose if both of the dealer’s hands are better than yours.
When setting both hands, it is best if the five-card hand is a better or higher value than the two-card hand. It is considered a foul if your two-card hand is higher and you will automatically lose. Always learn the house rules before you begin playing Pai Gow. This will help you avoid making any mistakes with the rules.
If you don’t have a pair, use the highest cards from the back to the front. Pairs are placed in the back with the next highest in the front. If you have more than one pair, place the big pair in the back and the lower pair in the front. An ace would be in the front because it is the highest card. If you have a full house, place the three cards in the back and the pair in the front of the hand.
A four of a kind requires you to split it with the extra card in between two pair if you have jacks through aces. If you have 7’s through 10’s, then the entire four of a kind will be in the front if you have an ace or king to place upfront, or else split. Never split four of a kind that is 6’s or lower. If you have four aces, place all four aces upfront. If you don’t know how to set your cards, ask the dealer to help you.